The Aeronautics Department is responsible for the historical research and collecting activities of the National Air and Space Museum related to all aspects of flight in the atmosphere. The goal of the department is to preserve, document, and interpret the history of aeronautical technology within a broad and appropriate context.
Staff members conduct historical research leading toward scholarly and popular publications, exhibitions, lectures, seminars, and other forms of public presentation. This research is intended to further our understanding of the transformation aviation has brought about in our lives — our conceptions of time and distance, our daily routines, popular culture, and the conduct of exploration, business, and war — in their political, military, and socio-cultural contexts. Staff members also respond to a broad range of requests from the public on matters related to the history of aeronautics.
The Aeronautics Department acquires, records, and maintains a collection of historically significant artifacts for public exhibition, study, and reference. The collection represent many areas of interest in aviation, e.g., aircraft; aircraft propulsion; armament and ordnance; flight materiel and equipment; instruments and avionics; photographic equipment; ground support and infrastructure; aeronautical engineering technology; and aviation culture and the humanities. These artifacts are on display at the Museum on the National Mall, the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, and as part of the department’s loan program at other museums in the United States.